To the Editor,
In the aftermath of the Saint Valentine’s/Ash Wednesday mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the human cost of violence is impossible to ignore. The victims will be individually profiled and then eulogized by grief-stricken family members and friends. It’s hard to avoid an intimate awareness of the cost of being the only Western democracy where semi-automatic weapons with high capacity magazines are legal.
Most American Catholics have no such awareness of the human cost of the Crusades. We are generally unaware how crusaders raped and mass murdered Muslims, Jews, and Orthodox Christians. We are even less aware that President Bush called the US Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan a “crusade,” something very much on the mind of the surviving family members of the hundreds of thousands of people we have killed in those countries.
But, like intimacy with the ugly reality of the twelfth US school shooting so far this year, awareness of the obscenity that was the medieval Crusades and are the current wars in the middle east, can not only change our perspective, but also our practices. The former without the latter is an empty gesture. Politicians of all stripes are saying that their hearts go out to the victims in Parkland and that these shooting have to stop, but few of them have the courage to challenge the gun lobby and enact sensible gun control. Similarly, Holy Cross could and should drop the offensive crusader mascot, but will not really eschew the scandal of the Crusades until it drops training soldiers to enter the military that continues to kill civilians in a dozen countries and threatens to annihilate all humanity with the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.
Pope Francis says the possession of nuclear weapons is sinful. If Holy Cross continues to train students to fight in that nuclear military, then perhaps the name “crusader,” with its straightforward contradiction of Christ’s nonviolent Cross, should be retained as a matter of honesty in advertising.
Scott Schaeffer-Duffy ‘80
Saints Francis & Thérèse Catholic Worker